Huawei is going strong in the world of smart wearables, bringing some impressive TWS products. The Freebuds 5i is its latest product that was introduced in China last June and made it to the international stage right in time for the holiday period.
We got to spend some time with a pair of Huawei Freebuds 5i and tested the claims of better noise cancellation, longer battery life and quicker connectivity. Here’s what we found out.
We got the blue Freebuds 5i, which we believe is the prettiest color of the three (other two being white and Black). Regardless of color you get a smooth finish that looks and feels like a pebble. There is one button on the side for resetting the earbuds and a USB-C port for charging. The back side is flat, allowing you to put the case on a flat surface without wobbling.
The buds inside the case have a glossy finish, but they are fairly resistant to fingerprints. The stem is relatively short and the buds have rubber tips, with two more sizes included in the retail box. The USB-A to USB-C cable is the other element in the box of the €100 buds.
We loved the fact the magnets, keeping the buds in the case, are not as strong as they were in the Freebuds 4i, making taking them out easier. Each bud supports touch gestures, and for the first time, they also have volume control by swiping up or down along the stem.
The Huawei Freebuds 5i support the Bluetooth 5.2 standard and you can pair them without any extra software. However to get access to their extra features you need the Huawei AI Life app. We suggest you get it from AppGallery as the latest updates take their time arriving on the Google Play store.
Huawei promises quick pairing with auto prompt when you open the box for the first time, but it works as intended only within the Huawei ecosystem. Just by opening the case, a Huawei smartphone will pop up a prompt to ask to connect. Any other smartphone needs to go take the scenic road and visit the app, but the process is still quick and pain-free.
Huawei managed to decrease the weight by 18% but kept the overall design and even increased battery capacity by about 60%. Each bud has 55 mAh, and the case adds 410 mAh more, which the company promises gives you 28 hours of music playback.
AAC Music playback on a single charge is said to be 7.5 hours at 50% volume, but our tests fell slightly short of that number, barely reaching 7 hours. The endurance with ANC enabled so supposed to be 6 hours on a single charge, and we were closer here, at just 10-15 minutes under the mark. That’s still solid endurance and you can easily get through even the longest of flights if you put the Freebuds 5i back in the case every now and then.
When it comes to charging, Huawei promised 15 minutes of the buds in the case to gain you back four hours of playback. We found out charging is just as fast as advertised, meaning top-ups feel near instant.
The whole 410 mAh battery of the case and the two 55 mAh batteries in the buds charged from 0% to 100% in just 90 minutes, even faster than the advertised 110 minutes for the case alone. The Huawei Freebuds 5i case does not support wireless charging, though, so plugging them in is mandatory.
The Huawei AI Life app lets you toggle the three noise suppression options – Noise canceling, Off, and Awareness. The former has three different modes – Cozy, for places with a little noise, General, which is the default option and Ultra, for maximum ANC.
We found the Freebuds 5i’s ANC good if not quite up to the best out there. The Galaxy Buds2 Pro and the Freebuds Pro 2 would make better flight companions, but they are in an entirely different price category.
The app also provides basic sound quality presets – Default, Bass Boost, and Treble Boost.
The 10 mm dynamic driver and its polymer composite diaphragm do a decent job in the mid and high frequencies, but the Freebuds 5i certainly comes short when deep bass needs to be played.
That makes the Freebuds 5i great choice for pop listeners and conferencing. They are also well suited for the occasional workout with the IP54 rating. We tested the buds in extreme conditions, including runs in the cold winter rain, and the sound and the fit were not compromised even the slightest.
Huawei Freebuds 5i are solid step forward from the Freebuds 4i, which were announced over 18 months ago. Having the £90/€100 price in mind, we were impressed with the ANC performance, the quick connectivity and the gesture controls. Battery life is also impressive, and while audio quality isn’t the best out there it’s not so bad as to be a deal-breaker.